Rumour about mass graves in Lappeenranta

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Mek
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Rumour about mass graves in Lappeenranta

Post by Mek » 14 Oct 2004 15:45

Hi guys,

Silminnäkijä TV program is offering again a small documentary that sounds rather interesting, its about a rumour thats been circling around that in Lappeenranta 60 years ago there was operating a secret field court that executed hundreds of Finnish deserters.

http://www.yle.fi/silminnakija/ (in Finnish)

I have heard this rumour too, but I don't know much about it, maybe the TV doc will offer somekind of views about it. Im tempted to ask, whats your take on this? is it just an urban myth? a lie? or did something really take place there, a secret field court? Sounds like a myth to me, but.. lets see what the documentary has to offer.

Regards,
-Pete

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Juha Hujanen
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Post by Juha Hujanen » 14 Oct 2004 17:06

That rumour keeps popping up from time to time.There's no evidence to support that rumour and executions of that calibre would have been discovered long time ago.

Cheers/Juha

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Post by Mikko H. » 15 Oct 2004 07:18

I, too, am unconvinced. Just two points --

- Death penalty is a deterrent: you execute a man for desertion to encourage the others to keep on fighting. What's the point to keep the executions secret, then?

- To try and execute such a large number of men in secret would have required the collaboration of (at least) dozens of men. There's simply no way all the men involved would have kept silent -- esp. as in the immediate post-war years (and later) the communists and their fellow travellers would have been delighted to drag something like that up. (To claim that all the men involved were officers, military judges and other such men absolutely loyal to the system doesn't hold water -- I don't believe such men would also have executed the condemned and dug the graves.)

There are a number of other reasons not to believe any secret executions took place, but these are IMO the most important.

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Harri
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Post by Harri » 15 Oct 2004 18:08

Very good points Mikko!

It is clear that if such things happened hundreds of people had to know at least something about it. It is said that at Lappeenranta would have been numerous Military Police Companies chasing desserters. Probably only one special unit - at least platoon-sized or bigger - would have been needed for the executions and handling of prisoners.

Besides Finnish style almost always was that desserters could choose: back to the line or to military court. Only those who refused to return back to their unit were sentenced. Other crimes were a different case. My personal theory is that there was something going on at Lappeenranta in the summer 1944 but the sentenced and executed ones would not have been average desserters but soldiers who had done other even more serious crimes (like shooting their mates or superiors). But the Mikko's first doubt still exists. In that case the number of executed ones couldn't have been more than a few tens of men.

The biggest doubt is really: why this all would have been done in secrecy although it all was done according to Finnish laws? The only possible reason for secrecy in that case could be that it was some kind of "cleansing operation." What would have been the reason(s) for such operation? I really don't know... :?

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Hanski
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Post by Hanski » 15 Oct 2004 19:58

I entirely missed that program on 14 October -- did anyone see it?

My best guess is, it boils down to one more pathetic sample of cheap sensationalist journalism again, entirely built on rumours, hearsay, and wild imagination mixed with vague attempts at throwing mud on the Finnish military authorities, in order to build "reputation" for certain TV personalities. Probably much in the same category as the "sensational revelations" of Elina Sana on persons handed over to Germans in WWII.

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Post by Steady » 15 Oct 2004 20:14

There were several towns nearer to the frontline: Joutseno, Imatra, Enso for example. Surely there were deserters hiding in those palces. Still, no rumours of death squads there. Also, during the summer of 1944 those towns were full of people. You could not fire a shot without somebody hearing, let alone carry on death sentences. Imatra is an industry town with many leftist worker class citizens. Any kind of military atrocity would have been reported during the next decades.

But smaller incidents are a different thing: for example a person I know told of digging up soviet helmets and bayonets from near the border area during the eighties. Many of the bayonets were set as if they were marking a grave. Are there unmarked graves in that area? Does somebody have better information than mine?

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Harri
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Post by Harri » 15 Oct 2004 22:16

Steady wrote:There were several towns nearer to the frontline: Joutseno, Imatra, Enso for example. Surely there were deserters hiding in those palces. Still, no rumours of death squads there.


None of the mentioned places were towns or cities in 1944. Imatra didn't exist at all because it was formed after the war from areas taken from Ruokolahti, Jääski and Joutseno. Enso was a densely populated community of Jääski with pulp and paper factory. The name Imatra meant current Imatrankoski and the world fame big rapids at River Vuoksi.

Surely there were deserters also elsewhere but the supposed secret field court and the mass graves were probably there.

Steady wrote:Also, during the summer of 1944 those towns were full of people.


Were they? As far as I know at least Lappeenranta was evacuated. So in late June and July 1944 there were mainly military personnel. I don't know about the other places but I think also Joutseno and Imatra area were at least partly evacuated.

Steady wrote:You could not fire a shot without somebody hearing, let alone carry on death sentences. Imatra is an industry town with many leftist worker class citizens. Any kind of military atrocity would have been reported during the next decades.


Lappeenranta was much smaller place back in 1944. Lauritsala and Lappee were both bigger in population. Also the area (Huhtiniemi) west from the garrison between airfield and Lake Saimaa was hardly populated military area. There was just forest with a few buildings in military use. That secret military court was located a house there. Only a few civilians had right to visit or stay there.

Steady wrote:But smaller incidents are a different thing: for example a person I know told of digging up soviet helmets and bayonets from near the border area during the eighties. Many of the bayonets were set as if they were marking a grave. Are there unmarked graves in that area? Does somebody have better information than mine?


When Huhtiniemi was constructed and populated since 1960's lots of human bones were found from the area. Nobody was then interested in examining them. It is not entirely built area and there is also a camping place. I think it is never examined for possible graves.

I don't have any other information than what I have red from the newspapers but there are too many unanswere questions if nothing happened. What it was is unclear to me. The key person was of course Judge Tapanainen. It has been said that "too many buildings he has owned have already burned down" and coincidently last summer the building which is known as the House of Tapanainen burned.

Some of Tapanainen's old files were found from the attic of this house several years ago. Based on these files journalist Antti O. Arponen (with his mate historian) wrote a book on happenings at Lappeenranta after the Finnish Civil War in 1918. What is the strangest Judge Tapanainen had led similar kind of field court at Lappeenranta also in 1918. They sentenced hundreds of local Reds to death. Executions were done at the Lappeenranta Fort in the middle of Lappeenranta. They came public as late as in the late 1990's.

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Post by Steady » 15 Oct 2004 22:52

The maps in "Suomen Sota 1941-1945, 3. osa" (War in Finland, part 3)recognize Imatra as a population centre in 1941.

Possessing important factories, Imatra for example a steel mill, Imatra and Lappeenranta were not at all completely evacuated.

You can hear a rifle shot from far away. In my opinion, the noise caused by an execution squad would have been noted.

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Harri
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Post by Harri » 16 Oct 2004 18:16

Steady wrote:The maps in "Suomen Sota 1941-1945, 3. osa" (War in Finland, part 3)recognize Imatra as a population centre in 1941.


Of course Imatra (= about the current Imatrankoski) was a population centre. I was born in Imatra so I know the local history well enough. As a municipality Imatra has existed since 1948. Imatrankoski (or Just Imatra) was a densely populated community of Jääski just like Enso (which was the center of the municipality). All northern parts of current Imatra belonged to Ruokolahti before 1948 and western areas to your home municipality Joutseno. You should know better our local history while you live next to Imatra. According to an old encyclopedia:

Imatra. 1. Rapids in River Vuoksi in the current city of Imatra where River Vuoksi cuts the "Salpausselkä" [probably no English translation available]. The most famous rapids in Finland (usually closed by a dam). - 2. Water powerplant constructed to Imatra rapids [Imatrankoski] by the state, relieved to Imatran Voima [former electric company, nowadays Fortum]. ... The biggest water power plant in Finland. ...


Imatra, city (since 1971, Urban District [Kauppala] since 1948) in South Karelia ...


Steady wrote:Possessing important factories, Imatra for example a steel mill, Imatra and Lappeenranta were not at all completely evacuated.


Not completely but most civilian population had already been evaquated because after the loss of Viipuri it seem that Soviets could reach Lappeenranta and Imatra withing a few days.

Steady wrote:You can hear a rifle shot from far away. In my opinion, the noise caused by an execution squad would have been noted.


I think there was also a shooting range at Huhtiniemi? Besides shots are occasionally heard from all military areas so it is nothing odd. Like I said the area west from the garrison was nearly unpopulated military area in 1944 so there were no civilians nearby. In my opinion rifle shots wouldn't have been any problem. During the war no-one would have considered occasional rifle shots odd from the garrison area.

On the other hand I wonder why they would have transported bodies of the shot soldiers in the centre of Lappeenranta by lorries? If everything was so secret I think also transports would have been top secret. And was there any reason to transport bodies anywhere? I mean the court was at Huhtiniemi but so were the supposed shooting place and mass graves.

My opinion is that if bodies were transported in Lappeenranta they have been either executed or killed Soviet soldiers. In the summer 1944 Finns captured at least tens of Soviet spyes in Finnish military uniforms (mostly junior officer uniform). They were executed shortly after examination.
They scouted Finnish positions and gave misleading orders to Finnish troops. One theory on the loss of the Viipuri is that such a Soviet special troops soldier would have gave an order to withdrawn from positions. It is perhaps not true but proves that this was not very uncommon during the summer 1944.
[/quote]

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Post by Tuco » 17 Oct 2004 03:19

Hello … When I was there just over a year ago, with a good friend of mine -retired Col Finnish Army - he mentioned this rumor to me. He felt it was incorrect but I did not press him for details, so please do not read me as knowing more about the subject than I really do. He did show me an area where some of the Reds were executed during the Civil War.

Nice town with friendly people. I have been there three times but this was the first time that I really got the chance to view the town in any detail. The bad thing was we ran into some drunk Swedes (going on a ferry to Russia) who decided they wanted to fight and argue with any Americans they came across. What was funny in the end was a shop owner saw these drunks giving us problems so she came out and gave us a free beer then stated how sorry she was to have this happen. She called the Swedes a nasty name so they left. :P

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Harri
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Post by Harri » 18 Oct 2004 17:09

Swedes did it again... :wink:

----

The unit which may be responsible of the claimed executions was mentioned in the program: 7. Sotapoliisikomppania (7th Military Police Company). It is the only MP unit of which all records, files and unit war diaries are missing. Was it some kind of special unit or just one of the kind?

The number of executed ones is claimed to have been about 600 - 800 men. In the records of the Army they were most likely "missed in action" and nothing have been heard of them afterwards. It is strange that not a single paper which would even hint to such executions or even the existence of the secret field court has never been found anywhere.

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Post by Mikko H. » 19 Oct 2004 06:35

It is strange that not a single paper which would even hint to such executions or even the existence of the secret field court has never been found anywhere.


It is strange only if such court existed and executions took place! :wink:

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Juha Hujanen
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Post by Juha Hujanen » 19 Oct 2004 14:30

There's little "special" in 7th Military Police Company.It was one of many V Corps units,that were send to Karelian Isthmus.Other V Corps units that were also transfered were:16.Signals Battalion,13.Pioneer Battalion,12.Gas protection Company and other units too.

Cheers/Juha

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Eisenfaust
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Post by Eisenfaust » 05 Feb 2005 17:24

There might be a private investigation in the future done by the "Osasto Lauri Törnin Perinnekilta".
http://www.yle.fi/uutiset/kotimaa/oikea/id6863.html (in Finnish)

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Scharf
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Post by Scharf » 02 Mar 2005 04:23

Hello!
There is a lot of unmarked graves in Southern Carelia. Some are russian POW´s some germans...maybe there is something in Huhtiniemi. Let´s waite and we will see...

Regards from border!

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